A gender study from photographer JeongMee Yoon

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If you asked me to name fifteen of my favorite things, art, photography, and sociology would all be on the list. So when Jenn at BlondeShot Creative sent us a link to this snippet about JeongMee Yoon’s Pink and Blue Project, I was quite pleased!

The premise is pretty straight-forward: for her thesis, Yoon is examining both the trends in cultural preferences and the varying differences in taste that children and their parents from a variety of cultures and ethnic groups exhibit. As you can see, she’s also studying how gender and sex are presented to children and how children are in turn socialized to play their gender.

Tess and Her Pink and Purple Things (2006). Photo by JeongMee Yoon.

Kihu and His Blue Things (2007). Photo by JeongMee Yoon.
Kara Dayeoun and Her Pink Things (2008). Photo by JeongMee Yoon.

See more at JeongMee Yoon’s site.

Comments on A gender study from photographer JeongMee Yoon

    • Couldnt agree more. Im almost certain my daughter will someday want head to toe pink because that seems to be the way the universe works. And when she does I will support her self expression. But right now, Ive never been so happy about my brown and green nursery!

      • And this is why I love getting hand-me-downs from you, Hunny. Your taste in kids clothes is much more along the lines I appreciate, especially with lots of greens and browns. And it is not even that they are no feminine, just not all pink all the time. Ironically, Pretty in Pink just started playing on iTunes while I type this.

  1. I just happen to think the photos are visually appealing. But that’s just me. 🙂

    Granted, living in a house full of boys (boyfriend, 2 sons, 1 stepson but he lives with his mother) I’m so irritated that blue, brown, and gray are the only colors available. And trying to find colors in the girls section is equally as bad. Pink and purple. I just love colors and want to be able to choose from them all!!

    • It’s so difficult to find colorful clothes for boys! I know girls get a lot of pink, but sometimes it feels just “bright colors” in general have become gendered. I’m on a constant mission for orange pants, bright green hoodies, bold yellow shirts, and shiny red boots.

      • I had the same feelings! My new strategy:

        1.) Buy plain white shirts and pants (American Apparel is good – you get 15% off if you buy three of the same thing!)

        2.) Dye or tie dye the hell out of it. Rit works surprisingly well, and the Dharma Trading Company is great for Serious Dying Gear (I recommended their tie-dye kit highly!!)

        3.) Enjoy colorful baby! My boy is currently rocking a lime green shirt and purple pants, both dyed by me.

        • I’m a big proponent of dying clothing, though I find that the stuff I’ve dyed with Rit fades in the sun pretty quickly. My husband really loves Dharma’s fiber-reactive dyes, precisely ’cause they don’t fade.

      • When my sons favourite colours were pink and purple I wondered where to go to find such shirts that are stil “boy” clothes. The place to go? H&M! Unfortunately he eventually started school and it didn’t take long for him to inform me that pink is a “girl” colour. My husband tried to convince him otherwise by arguing the fact that he himself owns a couple pink shirts, but my son wasn’t convinced – pink was clearly for girls. I guess I should be glad I didn’t paint his room pink when he asked me to hah!

      • Ariel—Right now Target has on CLEARANCE a bunch of stuff from their Little Seed collection–all Organic nice fabrics in bright colors for cheap! PS: they have orange pants! Check it out.

  2. So fascinating, I love this stuff! Also fascinating is what my little girl actually chooses for herself already (she’s 20 months). We were convinced we’d have a little tomboy because of my and my husbands natural influences. He’s a manly-man contractor and I wouldn’t be caught dead in pink. But lo and behold, so far, she’s a girly-girl, crazy for bracelets and shoes. My husband and I look at eachother and think “Where did THAT come from?” The neighborhood boy her age is playing with trucks, and she books it for purses everytime we enter a store. I know she doesn’t get it from me, so weird!

  3. Very interesting photos. I definitely want to make sure my child has a wide variety of things to play with and that she isn’t totally awash in nothing but pink. I was a major tomboy growing up that hated pink and dresses.. and I have changed.. I actually like pink now and I have to admit there is a lot of cute pink stuff, but I rather my child’s room look like a rainbow and not a monochromatic pink room lol.

  4. I’d be interested to see what all of my son’s stuff would looked like splayed out around him.

    • My kids stuff is ALWAYS splayed out around their room. The trick is getting everything back where it came from…including my sanity!! LoL

  5. I wish I had a picture like this to see what my belongings looked like when I was small – especially as I’m really not fond of the color pink.

    Although, come to think of it, my mother is very adamant about making sure everything she gives to other people is gender neutral. If she knits a baby blanket, it will be green and yellow, or it will have many colors, so maybe it wouldn’t have been that bad.

    I feel sorry for any future daughters I might have – they probably won’t get anything pink!

  6. My husband and I are both very outdoorsy, casual, utilitarian. Our daughter? Pink, purple, frilly, fancy.

    In some ways, I think she sees the pink/fancy stuff as an opposite to what she sees at home, and it attracts her. I try to remember that being free to choose for herself includes being able to choose mainstream and “traditional.” She’ll probably turn her style sense upside down and back again a dozen times before she leaves home anyway.

  7. my daughters baby stuff was all over pink, mostly becuase it was all given to us by other people (she wasnt really planned) now however her room is rainbow, and texture! there is no prevailing color scheme because she is blind and color has nothing to do with what she likes! Im going to a baby shower for a friend this weekend, now I’m interested to see how many pink things she receives for her little girl

  8. 2 comments:
    1) the pictures, while interesting and reflective of our culture, are still self-limiting. That is, if I read her site right, the photographer/author omitted any non-pink or non-blue possessions these children might have. I think it would be more accurate (and a stronger argument) to look at ALL the possessions, and see what percentage tend towards the pink or blue. I’m sure it’s still a high percentage, but perhaps the scientist in me wants to see a balanced experimental design.
    2) I remember loving the color pink until I was about 5, when I had a best friend (a girl) who insisted that she hated pink and her favorite color was black. Being the easily swayed child I was, I immediately eschewed pinks and started looking at other colors as my “favorites”, despite the prevalence of pink toys & clothes for my age group. To me, this speaks of a much stronger influence from peers rather than “society”‘s advertising. Of course, whether or not your peers are influenced by all the pink advertising is part of the story, too. : )
    And, ok, there’s a third comment…
    3) Precisely because of the prevalence of these gendered colors, I am planning on NOT finding out the sex of my baby until the actual due date. Hopefully, this will force well-meaning friends and family–and myself!–to buy non-gendered colors and baby items.

  9. The whole pink-and-blue thing makes me CRAZY. And the pastels, too… I want bright saturated colors for my babe!!

    Not to mention the gender divide in the toy aisles at the big-box stores is nightmarish for my card-carrying feminist sensibilities.

    Like Erika, forcing relatives to get gender-neutral stuff is one of the main reasons we decided not to find out the sex of our little Nugget currently in the oven, and it’s just amazing how much that surprises and confuses people. They just don’t know what box to put the little critter in! Which makes me happy.

    My favorite is when they say “How can you not find out? I couldn’t do that, I’m such a control freak…” as though knowing the baby’s sex will give them *any* more control over anything!

  10. I think that the whole genderization thing just happens sometimes, whether a parent wants it or not. I tried so hard to let my little boy have access to everything, I bought him dolls and if he wanted to try on make-up I would give him a lip gloss, but through seeing the kids around him and images on Television, he just automatically gravitated to the “boy” things.

  11. Historically, blue was chosen because it was thought to ward off evil spirits. It was placed on the boys because they were heirs and, therefore, more important. Pink was chosen only because it looked good with blue. You also have to remember that purple was a color only royalty could wear. It’s strange to think that color choices decided centuries ago abide still today.

    My nursery was lavender with a lavender rosebud pattern material. Then my colors changed to pink and purple. My favorite color remains pink to this day. Although, I only like certain shades of pink, mostly mauve/rose. I think my only saving grace was the fact I was born on St. Patrick’s Day and was therefore given lots of green items. Green is my second favorite color btw. That being said, the interior of my entire house (minus the yellow kitchen) was decorated or painted blue because it was my mother’s favorite color.

    Around 9 my sister decided that she was going to be a career woman with no children. This meant that she had to like cats and, for some reason, the color yellow. I don’t know where this reasoning came from but there you go. She barely started liking the color yellow again around 25.

    I think who you are will win out no matter the toy colors you are given as a child. Half the time, the color you are given is the only one they have of that toy. Plastic paint is your friend 😉

    What the child has also depends on what the parents give them and what the child likes. My oldest nephew’s favorite color has been red since he was old enough to voice a preference. He likes red and black. His younger brother likes blue and always has. Ryley, the youngest, likes yellow and green. Beyond that, their toys were never really color blocked. They always preferred things to look realistic.

  12. I fought against assigning gender to my son Ryland before he was born. I don’t like that just about everything for boys has trucks or sports and they are all in baby blue, a color I detest. It also annoys me that people assume he’s a girl any time he wears pink (albeit a pink polo embroidered with gray skulls-Old Navy!) or purple (he also has a great plum and lime-striped polo from ON)and because he has long, shaggy hair. In any case, going to preschool has made him all boy: guns, trucks, dirt, rough play…but I still got him a play kitchen (to my uncles’ dismay, kitchens “are for girls”), his own baby dolls and doll strollers…his room is bright and colorful but almost no blue.

    Target and Old Navy usually have a decent selection of neutrally colorful and inexpensive clothes, I find a lot of stuff there.

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